Legend has it that when Bahralt the crafter god had finished forging Telara, he examined his work and was pleased. His assistants in this masterpiece were spirits of creation, and he rewarded their labors with the gift of life. These Dwarves awoke with a desire to build and create, to craft wildest dreams into tangible wonders.
The Dwarves built the first cities. Though primitive, these cairns were carved into the rock with such craftsmanship that some still stand today. Dwarves were the first blacksmiths, masons, the first enchanters of magical devices. Their works made them welcome in any settlement the world over. Dwarves made weapons of surpassing deadliness, jewelry of astounding beauty, and structures to withstand eons and sieges.
When the Blood Storm invaded, the best the Dwarves could hope for was to be forced by the more civilized dragons Laethys, Crucia, or Akylios to produce wealth, weapons, and runecraft. Rather than accept slavery or oblivion, the Dwarves marched from their halls of stone to help rid Telara of the plundering wyrms.
Thereafter, the works of the Dwarves were integral to most of Telara's great empires. Dwarven craftsmen were paid handsomely to build the machines that fueled the mad cosmic dreams of the Eth sorcerer kings, and Mathosia marched on its first crusade wielding Dwarven blades and accompanied by stout Dwarf axmen.
The Dwarf king upon his runic throne is no entitled aristocrat, as Dwarf hierarchy is based on craftsmanship and skill. Every generation, each Dwarf city, or “delve,” holds a festival where a council of elders called the Syntechnia select the clan who boasts the greatest artisans, mages, warriors, and priests. This clan rules the delve until the next festival, with their head-of-house as king or queen. Dwarven folklore is filled with stories of tinkerers, smiths, and warriors rising from poverty to prominence through hard work, ingenuity, and excellence in their field.
Every delve has different needs, valuing different skills and crafts. For example, Lord's Hall in Scarwood Reach nurtured close ties with Mathosia, focusing on war and weapon-craft to create the finest swords, warriors, and inquisitors in Telara. Led by the architect Borrin Gammult, these Dwarves joined with Prince Zareph Mathos to battle the tyrant and necromancer Aedraxis. Alas, Lord's Hall was hit hard by the Shade. Its remaining Dwarves shut themselves behind a mighty door, and have not emerged since.
Meanwhile, in the Moonshade Highlands, Rune King Molinar of Hammerknell ushered in a golden age of magic and runecraft. The delve produced miracles to rival the brilliant Eth, and was spared the horrors of the Shade, only to suffer the consequences of an ancient lie. For Hammerknell owed its miracles not to craftsmanship, but to binding the spirits of the dead to fuel the machines. Freed by proximity to planar energies, these spirits rose up in vengeance. The doors of Hammerknell were also sealed, not to protect the city from the world, but the world from the horrors of the city.
The Dwarves are a fallen people now. Without a homeland, they wandered for many years, taking shelter with the Mathosians, Elves, and even the Eth, as few towns would turn away a dwarven craftsman looking for a home. When Borrin Gammult returned as an Ascended Guardian, many Dwarves rallied to his banner in Sanctum, vowing to build a new home with the Vigil's blessing, and to seek redemption for the sins of Hammerknell. Holy Sanctum owes much of its beauty and strength to the efforts of Dwarven heroes, mortal and Ascended, whose genius never faded even as their hope guttered to embers.